Rayna's Story

My Beautiful Mum Rachael

My Beautiful Mum Rachael

She passed away from pancreatic cancer on the 16th of November, 2007 she was 68.

In January, 2007 my mum and my two daughters and I went for a week’s holiday on the north coast. My mum lived out of Sydney so it was lovely for us to spend the time together, my mum enjoyed it as she had not had a holiday for many years. I was not aware at the time that she wasn’t feeling well, my mum reflected later that she just thought she had a virus.

In March 2007 my mum went to see the doctor as she was experiencing stomach pain and had noticed her skin had turned yellow. The doctor did a series of blood tests and said possibly she may have Hepatitis A and she was booked into have a scan, she was unable to attend due to being in too much pain and phoned her doctor who then called an ambulance.

Mum was taken to the local hospital and then transferred to a larger hospital where they performed exploratory surgery. I arrived at the hospital just as mum had come back into the ward. They were unsure of what it was other than they had found a mass. They wanted to perform another exploratory operation in a few days. I could see no purpose in this so I requested mum be flown to a hospital in Sydney, close to me, of which was organised the next day.

Over the weekend they did a series of tests and determined that Mum’s bile duct was blocked and she underwent a procedure to have a stent implanted and a drain to take away the excess bile that had built up.

The oncologist came to visit Mum and I, with his coordinator who liaised with us. I don’t know what we would have done without the coordinator as they were there at anytime to help with any questions and they were at all the appointments that Mum had it was a great support.

Mum was told she had pancreatic cancer and she was to commence chemotherapy to shrink the tumour. My mum experienced a lot of pain which was managed with pain killers and the dosage increased as time went on. Mum spent approximately two months with me going for her chemotherapy once a week for three weeks and having the fourth week off. Mum was admitted to hospital several times during this period due to dehydration and other side effects.

At this stage Mum wanted to return home to live and continue her treatment at a local hospital which she did with a friend taking her each week. Mum was living on her own at this stage which wasn’t ideal so we organised meals on wheels for her and to have some assistance at home for housework twice a week. Mum was finding it increasingly difficult being on her own and after a couple of falls and being back home for a few months, Mum came to Sydney to live.

She saw her oncologist before leaving and for the first time she asked the doctor what her prognosis was he said to her statistics are you have four months to live. I am thankful Mum had a friend with her as I could not imagine what it would be like to be told news like that. It took my breath away as I knew this would inevitably shorten Mum’s life but I was thinking Mum had years still to live. My view was these are statistics not necessarily what is going to happen.

My mum returned to Sydney and after spending a week with me she fell ill and was admitted to hospital where she spent a few weeks and when she left she could no longer walk. Mum was admitted to a Nursing Home Facility where I could visit her daily and she was no longer able to have chemotherapy.

Over the next two months Mum declined and slipped into a coma for five days of which I stayed by her side. We never gave up hope and my Mum gave such a brave fight. Through our journey I could not fault the care that my Mum received and I know everything possible was done. Finding a cure to give others more hope with this terrible disease would be a great achievement.